When Politics Becomes Faith – Vladimir Moss

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In the days when ROCOR was still a true Church and spiritually free to tell the truth, the Moscow Patriarchate (which now controls it) used to accuse it of “playing politics” when it brought up the fact that the MP was controlled by Soviet power and was its obedient mouthpiece. In fact, of course, it was the MP that was playing politics; it, and not ROCOR, was the tool of antichristian forces. Something similar is happening today in the True Orthodox Church. Unable or unwilling to condemn Putin’s horrifically antichristian invasion of Ukraine, some leaders have instead turned on members of their flock who believe such a condemnation is morally obligatory and condemned them for “playing politics”.
Everyone agrees that playing politics is not the business of church leaders. Most, however, also agree that church leaders sometimes have to rebuke political leaders for sins against Christian faith and/or morality, and warn their flock not to follow them or approve of their sin – especially if these political leaders claim to be Orthodox. So where is the border line between politics and faith?
Let us consider several cases in church history where the saints, often at great cost to themselves, spoke the truth to political power:-
1. The prophet Elijah rebuked King Ahab of Israel for sinning against the faith. When Ahab accused him of “troubling Israel”, the prophet denied it, claiming that it was the king, not he, who was troubling and perverting Israel by his impiety.
2. St. John the Baptist rebuked King Herod for his adultery – and paid for his boldness with his life.
3. The Lord called another King Herod a “fox”.
4. Many of the Holy Fathers rebuked the pagan Roman emperors for their impiety.
5. Many more of the Holy Fathers rebuked Christian Roman emperors of heresy – Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, or Iconoclasm.
6. St. Ambrose of Milan excommunicated the Orthodox emperor St. Theodosius the Great for killing some thousands of Thessalonians. He humbly accepted the rebuke and wept over his sin.
7. Several of the Holy Fathers openly rebuked emperors and kings for entering into communion with Roman Catholic heretics.
8. St. Philip of Moscow rebuked Ivan the Terrible for his murder of many thousands of innocent Russian Orthodox, whom he called “martyrs” while telling Ivan that he would go to hell for his sins.
9. St. Tikhon of Moscow rebuked and excommunicated the Bolsheviks for their sins, saying that the fire of Gehenna awaited them.
10. Many Catacomb Church martyrs and confessors condemned Soviet power, being called “Tikhonites” for their following of the faith and example of St. Tikhon.
All these were in different ways accused of going beyond the permissible bounds of church activity and “playing politics”. But the Holy Church of Christ has rejected the accusation and accepts all of them as saints.
In today’s world, however, it is difficult to find such martyrs or confessors. NOBODY in Russia today is speaking out against the shocking crimes of the political leadership of the Russian Federation – unless they are doing so behind prison walls, where they have been incarcerated for their boldness. So why this silence, unprecedented, in my view, in the annals of Church history?
The obvious answer would seem to be: they are silent out of “fear of the Jews”. Since I live a comfortable life in relative freedom, I will not accuse anyone of cowardice for fear of falling into hypocrisy. In any case, it would be an inadequate answer. For the real tragedy of today’s situation is that most of those who are silent appear sincerely to approve of the criminal actions of Putin and the Red Army: the mass murders of innocent people, the tortures, the rapes, and the “mere” lying (the KGB and its bots are pouring out thousands of myths, not to mention Putin’s initial massive lie just before his invasion that he was not intending to invade).
The KGB myth-makers have implanted into people’s minds that the real authors of these crimes are the West, or the Jews. This reminds me of the remark of St. Andrew of Ufa at the beginning of the revolution on his hearing people putting all the blame for the revolution on the Jews. He said: such an argument is not worthy of an Orthodox Christian. For is it not the duty of every Christian to resist the insinuations of the Jews and in general every prompting of the devil? Must we resist the devil and his servants or give in to them? The answer is obvious: those who give in to the devil, if they call themselves Christians, have no excuse…
In any case, this excuse doesn’t make sense. When the soldiers of Putin’s accursed army pull a trigger or drop a bomb, is it they who are doing this or some western agent moving their hand or lifting their arm? Again, the answer is obvious: those who do such things are guilty as charged, and cannot pass off their enormous guilt on to any other person – of any nationality.
Let us not forget the most important fact of modern Russian history: in February 1918 Patriarch Tikhon, supported by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, ANATHEMATIZED not only all the Bolsheviks, but also all those who supported them, and exhorted his flock to have no communion with these “outcasts of humanity” in any way whatsoever (Act 66.6 of the Council). Without hesitation we may say: the main cause of the terrible and, it would seem, unceasing sufferings of the Russian people is their DISOBEDIENCE to the holy patriarch and the holy council. And the suffering will continue and increase until we learn to obey Christ and the Holy Church. And this applies also and particularly to the leaders of the True Orthodox Church, and especially to those who dismiss all protests against Putinism as “politics”.
Let us cast off all fear of hypocritical accusations of “playing politics” and fear instead the terrifying word of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever: “Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 10.33).
Christ is risen!
April 9/22, 2023.
Saturday of Bright Week, 2023.
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